jump to navigation

Open Wide . . . and Don’t Blink! August 2, 2012

Posted by nrhatch in Health & Wellness, Humor, Life Balance.
comments closed

Mom started a month-long physical therapy regime this week, a necessary sequel to spine surgery.

Yesterday, her “day off,” I scheduled her for an eye exam. 

Easy, right?


Mom is an impatient patient who views a five-minute wait in a comfortable waiting room as an onerous burden . . . akin to standing in line, in blazing hot sunlight, with three hungry toddlers, to board the good ship Disney.

She does not become a patient patient once admitted to the inner realms. 

“What’s taking so long?” “Where’s the doctor?” “Why is everybody walking  around doing nothing?” “This is ridiculous!”  “Let’s go!”  

And no one would ever accuse her of being an overly compliant patient.

It’s not entirely her fault, of course.  She can’t always hear the instructions tossed her way. 

And, once heard, she can’t always translate the instructions into actionable action.

“Lean your forehead against this bar and open your eyes.”


“Lean your head HERE and open your eyes . . . that’s it . . . no, keep your eyes open . . . I need you to keep your forehead pressed against this bar . . . open your eyes . . . don’t blink . . . I need you to stop blinking . . . stop blinking . . . open your eyes . . . keep your eyes open . . . lean forward . . . keep your forehead on the bar . . . open your eyes.”

In the midst of these necessary and routine measurements, mom screamed out, “God Damn It!  This is torture.”

The doctor agreed with her assessment of the situation. 

He pushed his measuring device aside, threw up his hands in frustration, and left the room.

I didn’t blame him a bit. 

How could I? 

There are times when I would like nothing better than to leave her by the side of the road and drive off into the sunset.  Times when I would like to emulate the Eskimos treatment of their elderly citizens . . . by loading her onto a passing ice floe and letting HER drift off into the sunset.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Those moments pass in due course.  Reality filters back in. 

Yesterday, I opened MY eyes, blinked, and found myself back in the exam room wondering how to entice the doctor to return and finish the exam . . . and how to persuade mom to sit back down and behave.

A wonderful and kind assistant helped mom calm down enough so she could get the necessary measurements . . . then she disappeared to encourage the doctor to return. 

I can only imagine what that conversation sounded like . . .

“No way.  I’m not going back in there.  Life is too short.  She can find another doctor.  I went to Harvard, god damn it!  Now I know why the Eskimos lived close to ice floes!”

He returned (eventually) and confirmed my suspected diagnosis.  Mom has cataracts and would benefit from surgery. 

Cataract surgery on compliant patients with full cognitive functioning is performed under local anesthesia.  Mom will need general anesthesia.  Or a straight jacket.  Or both.  

Bandaging is not required after cataract surgery.  Mom will require an eye patch.  And a night guard (or full head helmet) to keep her impatient hands away from her eyes during the healing process.

But first things first . . . mom has another twelve appointments for physical therapy before we can even think about scheduling cataract surgery.

Twelve more waiting rooms waits to wade through . . . I can hardly wait.

But, wait!  Waiting rooms are always frigid.  Maybe they keep a steady and ready supply of ice floes in the back room . . . just in case.    

Aah . . . that’s better!